Friday, July 4, 2014

More Self-Evident Truths on Independence Day

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness

Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

Today, all over America, families and friends are reuniting to renew ties, enjoy each other’s company, and celebrate our Nation’s birthday. It is a day when liberty and laughter go hand-in-hand – when we can acknowledge that, oh yes, we have our faults, and lots of problems too, but we’re happy and proud because we’re free, and we know the best of America is yet to be.

President Ronald Reagan’s “Message on the Observance of Independence Day,” 1981.

Today is the 4th of July – a good time to review the Declaration of Independence’s self-evident truths in light of recent events reflecting our unhappiness over our lack of economic growth, which hovers around 2% and spills over into our unemployment and health care unhappiness.

As John H. Cochrane, professor of finance at the University of Chicago , observes:

“Sclerotic growth trumps every other economic problem. Without strong growth, our children and grandchildren will not see the great rise in health and living standards that we enjoy relative to our parents and grandparents. Without growth, our government’s questionable ability to pay for health care, retirement and its debt evaporate. Without growth, the lot of the unfortunate will not improve. Without growth, U.S. military strength and our influence abroad will evaporate.”

Without growth, the new truth is that all men may not be created equal. Indeed, some, as George Orwell noted, are more equal than others. This lack of equality comes from a number of factors.

• Certain people, by virtue of native endowments, family wealth, genetic health, place or residence, and access to health providers and facilities, are more equal than others. Equal opportunity never equals equal outcomes.

• Men, because of their impregnability, their physical strength , and the nature of their jobs, may, in certain situations, be more equal than women, even though women maybe smarter and better educated. It’s unfair, but that is reality.

• Those who work for corporations or organizations, or organized monopolies, such as labor unions or large health care organizations, are more equal than individuals who must fend for themselves, although organizational people may sacrifice independence and autonomy, they have economic security.

• Then, there are those inalienable but abstract Rights – Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

What is Life? It is how you live. It is what distinguishes you from inanimate objects and dead organisms. It is manifested by growth, metabolism, reproduction, and the power to adapt yourself to your environment. It is health.

But is Life about“inalienable Rights” - Rights not capable of being transferred from one person to another? Therein lies the rub. Can health be mandated as a Right? Is it a Right that government can dictate – even though health inexorably declines as we age, and some are destined to be healthier than others?

And what about Liberty as a Right? Individual Liberties versus Government Control is what is at stake with ObamaCare. These Liberties include religious Liberty to practice what one preaches, Individual Liberty to be free of government penalties for not having a health plan, and Employer Liberty of not having to cover all employees when one may not have the means of doing so.

The pursuit of Happiness? If one is to judge from a Quinnipiac poll this week, Americans are unhappy with the policies our Government is pursuing.

The set of negatives in the poll include,

- Negative – 55% to 40% for Obama’s handling of the economy.

- Negative – 57% to 37% for foreign policy.

- Negative – 58% to 40% for health care.
- Negative – 51% to 44% for terrorism.

- Negative – 2% trust government “all of the time” and 12% trust government “most of the time” to do the right thing.
Nonsense about all these negatives, say the Obama people. Today’s news indicates unemployment has dropped to 6.1% and 288,000 gained jobs. Yes, say critics, but the labor department fails to mention millions have dropped out of the labor force, the effective unemployment rate is 12.1%, teenage and black unemployment exceeds 20%, and 500,000 lost full-time jobs, and 799,000 of the new jobs are part-time. It’s hard to know what statistics to trust.

If pursuit of Happiness translates into Happiness with Government, the Obama Administration is in trouble.
But cheer up. As President Reagan said in 1981, “We can make America great again by putting the destiny of this national back in the hands of the people. And why shouldn’t we? Because, after all, we’re Americans.”
We Americans have access to another self-evident truth.

We can always cast our ballot to show our unhappiness.

Hooray! Hooray! This is the good old USA.

Everything is going to be OK.

You can define the other self-evident truth.

With your ballot in the voting booth.

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